“I feel spanking should be a last resort, not a first resort.”
I hear this comment quite a bit. You probably do, too.
Honestly, I *feel* that way, too. In fact, I hate spanking and would rather not ever do it (and, of course, now the youngest are teens, I don’t).
I think this ‘last resort’ can be a shaky standard for _any_ disciplinary action, whether it’s time out, restriction, losing a privilege, an extra chore or a spanking. So forget about spanking, and let’s talk about what the ‘last resort’ means. For most of us, that means when I’ve ‘had it’ right? Maybe even when I’ve ‘had it up to HERE!” (complete with a hand chopping motion somewhere around the neck or higher.
If that’s not what you mean by ‘last resort,’ then more power to you. Please write a parenting post for us and we’ll share it. Here’s a hint, though, if you have not actually defined this term to yourself, ‘last resort’ in practice might not mean what you think it does.
If I’ve had enough sleep, am feeling unstressed and chipper, I may be able think of twenty better alternatives, and when I am tired, cranky, and distracted only two. If I am not careful, I might feel that the last resort has been reached after three infractions on one occasion, and on another it only takes one, and on yet another, ten. The ’last resort’ finish line tends to be a shifting standard, and that inconsistency is often when a disciplinary measure becomes an erratic and unfair treatment of our children, a way to ‘provoke them to anger’. This isn’t fair.
That ‘last resort’ is most often based on our feelings rather than their misbehavior. I think it’s a problem when *our* _feelings_ determine whether or not a child is disciplined and how.
I think it’s better to choose your discipline- reasonably, of course- and make that your discipline, consistently, firmly, however often it takes, and always as the first resort for disobedience. It’s better never to use any particular disciplinary tool at all than to use it only as a last resort, if the measure of last resort is your own exasperation levels.
“Last resort’ spankings in particular are really about as ineffectual a disciplinary measure as I can think of, excepting any other measure used only as a last resort rather than with consistency.
(Pictures courtesy of K-dramas and their creative alternatives to spanking as a disciplinary measure)